Friday, June 11, 2021

My Story Inspiration for Rescuing Raven

 My Story Inspiration for Rescuing Raven

By Jacqui Nelson

What inspires a short story? And can an author (who loves history) fit another iconic history-infused setting (Deadwood, South Dakota, during the gold rush) into a 6,000-word story that's also filled with romance and adventure? It was a challenge, believe me, but it was the best kind of challenge!

During my March, April, and May monthly blogs with Cowboys Kisses, I shared my Story Inspiration pages (the page I've included in the back of all of my books) for Between Heaven & Hell, Following Faith, and Choosing Bravery. 

Now it's time to share the Story Inspiration page for the story that chronologically follows those three, but this story was designed to be enjoyed at any time (including before reading the others)...

Rescuing Raven's Book Cover


Story Inspiration page ~ from the back of the book

Being an avid fan of the Dances with Wolves movie (starring Kevin Costner and Graham Greene) and the Deadwood TV series (starring Ian McShane and Timothy Olyphant), I’d always wanted to write a story set in South Dakota or the town of Deadwood. After registering for the 2018 Wild Deadwood Reads (WDR) author-reader event, an intriguing opportunity arose—join 16 authors (who would also be attending the event) in writing a new story for a limited-edition anthology called Wild Deadwood Tales. The anthology would be available for 2018 only, it would be showcased at WDR and Deadwood’s annual Professional Bull Riders (PBR) event, and all proceeds would go to the Western Sports Foundation (WSF).

The WSF and the PBR connections had many of the anthology authors choosing to write stories about modern-day bull riders, but I’m a historical fiction author—who now had her chance to write about Deadwood in 1876! 

Why 1876? That’s the year the town of Deadwood was born. Prior to 1876, the site was a gulch with dead trees. Then gold was found in the Black Hills and white settlers flooded in—illegally taking permanent residence on the Lakota’s sacred land that had been forbidden to whites by the U.S. government’s 1868 Fort Laramie Treaty. 

1876 is also the year of the Battle of the Little Big Horn—which was followed by General Crook’s march (from Montana Territory into the Dakota Territory) in pursuit of the Lakota Sioux. But General Crook only took enough rations for a few days—which resulted in the Horsemeat March (also known as the Starvation March) when his men had to eat their horses to survive. Near Deadwood, General Crook and his men fought the Battle of Slim Buttes and stole not only the Lakota’s winter food preserves but their horses (to replace the ones they’d eaten). 

Al Swearengen arrived in Deadwood early in 1876 and opened the Cricket Saloon, a barebones establishment that he built before his fancier and much more well-known Gem Theater. Not long after his arrival, his relationship with his first wife, Nettie, became extra complicated when a very attractive saloon girl named Kitty Austen came to town and became Al’s employee and more. 

All of this history created many complications for Raven (a Lakota woman born in the Black Hills) and Charlie Jennings (a white man from Oregon) who were perfect for each other even if their two worlds were not.

The reward is worth risk. Read Rescuing Raven for free on my website


Deadwood, Dakota Territory – 1876

Raven wants to save one person. Charlie wants to save the world. Their warring nations thrust them together but duty pulled them apart—until their paths crossed again in Deadwood for a fight for love.

In a gold rush storm, can an unlikely pair rescue each other?

Rescuing Raven features a grown-up Charlie Jennings who was a young boy in my Oregon Trail story, Between Heaven & Hell (set in 1850). You’ll also get to meet real-life (and really complicated) Al Swearengen—one of the first men to set up a business in Deadwood. Al’s most well-known saloon was The Gem Theater, but his first Deadwood saloon (the one shown in my story) was The Cricket. 

Click here to read an excerpt on my website.

Book review "grabbed my interest from the first page and did not let go until the end."


Resuing Raven is part of my Lonesome Hearts series, which follows the frontiersmen and women who meet on the Oregon Trail and afterward. Each story includes one or more of the characters from the other books but is also a standalone read.

Hope you enjoyed my writing inspiration and that your Friday and your weekend are filled with sunny summer inspiration ☀️❤️

~ * ~

Jacqui's author photo

Join me on 

Follow me on 

1 comment:

Julie Lence said...

I loved the show, Deadwood. Al was my favorite, with Trixie a close 2nd. Thank you for sharing, Jacqui!